Safety is our top priority and we are doing everything we can to provide the most up to date information about Holy land travel to/from Israel. We know how much people want to start planning that special experience and book their next Holy Land tour but its difficult to do so when the health situation around the world remains so uncertain. But Israel, a small and extraordinary destination of 9.5 million people, is slowly coming out of the pandemic, and, if current indicators continue their trend, will likely be welcoming visitors from abroad in the not too distant future.
Israel’s vaccination rate is approaching 60% of our population, and as this occurs we are seeing real positive proof of not only the overall effectiveness of the vaccine (95% effective) but also – the long awaited return to normalcy. Schools have reopened for in person learning, live concerts and events are happening, hotels are reopened to those with green passports (vaccination certification) or a negative covid test within 72 hours, museums, malls and restaurants are open as well with limitations on numbers and social distancing. Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity.
Our latest regulations that went into effect earlier this week now allow significant freedom for those with green passports (full vaccination certificate) and this is a huge step forward. With the recent holiday of Purim already two weeks past and current covid infection numbers including the number of serious cases continuing to decrease, the vaccination program is being hailed as a success thus far.
Ben Gurion International Airport reopened earlier this week and, as of March 14 – 20th, will be accepting 3000 passengers from certain destinations (JFK, Frankfurt, Kiev, Paris, London, Toronto and Hong Kong.) Additional flights from Italy, Greece, Ethiopia and Russia are slated to begin the week of March 14th. Israels borders with Jordan and Egypt are also reopening and twice a week Israelis may cross from Jordan and once a week from Egypt. Outgoing Israelis that are vaccinated are currently able to fly to Georgia without quarantine.
An easing of restrictions on travel for Israelis that are fully vaccinated are expected in the next few weeks.
More exciting news is that earlier this week ELAL test piloted a new covid nasal test in Tel Aviv prior to take off. Out of 280 passengers traveling, 112 non vaccinated persons were tested and the results were received within 15 minutes. Most of those that were tested were children (children under 16 are ineligible for vaccination) and everyone was negative. This new nasal test could have a dramatic impact on insuring safe travel moving forward.
In terms of air travel, the current requirement is that all passengers have to show a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their departure flight and within 72 hours of their return flight.
Moving forward, the expectation is that should the numbers continue to improve the government may begin to slowly reopen borders to in a phased approach over several months beginning with passengers from certain countries (and likely only those that are fully vaccinated). Of course, we know the road ahead is still quite uncertain but we are cautiously optimistic that Israel will safely begin to welcome tourists in the next several months. As such we are planning many groups and private tours for summer and fall 2021 and beyond.